There is always a demand for used iPhones, and if you want to save some money on your Apple smartphone, they are a good choice. As with any second-hand purchase, there are some things you need to check before handing over your money.
Basics of Buying a Used iPhone
Most of the following tips are aimed at buyers who can test their iPhone in person, for example, directly from a person using a resource such as Facebook Marketplace.
This is not possible for online sales, so you will need to do an online check instead. Reputable sellers will include many photographs detailing any scratches and other damage, including a detailed description of the item they are selling. The seller’s opinion is a good indicator of the quality of the product, but not everyone who sells an old iPhone will get a lot of feedback.
If you are shopping on an auction website such as eBay, paying with PayPal will protect the buyer, so you can claim a refund if the product is not as described. You should never buy items from local secret services like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree because you don’t check them in person, as you are not protected from numerous scams disguised as real lists.
When buying personal belongings, you should put your personal safety above all else. Meet in a public place like a cafe or mall and consider taking someone with you. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and consider using a peer-to-peer service like Cash App or Venmo instead. If the seller requires cash, first check the item, then withdraw money at the ATM (single).
If possible, avoid meeting at night or in isolated places, such as parking lots. Agree to the terms before agreeing to meet with the seller (for example, the method of payment and the ability to fully inspect the item), as this will help prevent any fraud.
If the price is too good to be true, it is most likely a scam. If the seller does not allow you to inspect the item in advance, then something may be wrong (or you get an empty box). If the seller insists on bringing cash with you before you see the product, don’t risk it.
Real sellers will understand your insistence on being safe and smart. If they have nothing to hide, they will be happy to check the item. They are interested in meeting in well-lit, public places, where they can feel safe.
RELATED: How to see if something is worth using eBay
1. Does the iPhone turn on?
Probably the most important thing to check is whether the iPhone is turned on. This seems obvious, but some vendors may try to transfer an iPhone that doesn’t charge as soon as the battery runs out. Don’t get caught up in it and make sure the iPhone is locked to the lock screen or “Hello”.
You may also want to insist that the iPhone has a charger and a wall adapter. An iPhone without these items is more likely to be stolen (although the seller simply decided to keep them). If possible, check that the iPhone is also charged normally; If so, consider carrying a portable battery and lightning cable.
2. Is Activation Lock Still Active?
Once the iPhone is turned on, you should expect to see a lock screen inviting the owner to enter a password. If you see a message asking you to enter a password to activate your iPhone, your iPhone may have been stolen. Even if it is not stolen, you will not be able to use it in this situation, so you will get away with it in the best way.
Insist that the seller activates the iPhone by entering his password. Activation Lock can be removed from iPhone by turning off the “Find my iPhone” function under Settings> [Owner’s Name] > Find My.
3. If iPhone is already deleted
When you meet with the seller, the iPhone has already been deleted and may be ready for sale. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it prevents you from fully testing the device. If so, you may see a “Hello” or “Slide to get started” message.
To test the iPhone adequately, you need to ask the seller to enter your information so that the phone is working. This may require them to insert a SIM card to activate the device. You can then perform some of the tests listed below before deciding whether you want to buy the device.
Once you are satisfied with the iPhone, ask the seller to remove the Activation Lock and uninstall the iPhone using Settings> General> Copy iPhone or Reset All Content and Settings. To do this, the seller is required to enter the Apple ID password to deactivate the Activation Lock, so you know that you can use the phone once you own the phone.
4. Is there visible damage?
Most used iPhones will have scratches and scuffs, even if they are stored in a box for a lifetime. If the iPhone is given to you in the box, always remove it to look better. Thoroughly inspect the device for any visible signs of damage, including scratches and small cracks on the edges of the screen.
Bending in the chassis is a little more troublesome, as it can damage internal components such as the battery. Check to see if the iPhone’s face is sitting flat on a low surface, as this will indicate whether any force has caused the chassis to bend. Check the camera device to see if the lenses are damaged or scratched.
Don’t worry too much about surface damage, but keep that in mind when it comes to the price of the item. From day one, an iPhone in excellent condition with a screen protector and a rigid body will be more valuable than a scratched iPhone, so you can use it to see if the seller is asking for a fair price.
5. How is the health of the battery?
Lithium-ion batteries deteriorate over time, and any used iPhone must have a battery that cannot maintain 100% of its original capacity. You can go to Settings> Battery> Battery Health to check two important indicators: maximum capacity and performance.
The maximum capacity will give you an approximate idea of how much the battery will charge. Anything above 90% is fine, but the smaller the number, the less time you can spend between fillings. More important is the performance of the battery.
When battery health is significantly reduced, iPhone performance may begin to slow as it tries to balance longevity. If any information other than “Peck Performance Ability” is provided, it is time to replace the battery as you are not getting the maximum result from the device.
6. Have any parts been replaced or repaired?
You can check if your iPhone is a refurbished model by going to Settings> General> About and looking at the “Model Number” entry. If this number starts with the letter F, it has been updated by Apple or the operator. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you may want to know. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine whether the device has been repaired by a third party.
If the seller announces that the battery has recently been replaced, you can check the parts and service history to see if the original Apple part has been used. Go to Settings> General> About and look for the appropriate section under the “Model Number” field.
If there is nothing in the list, either the iPhone is not running iOS 15.2 or newer, or nothing has changed. On iPhones running iOS 15.2 or later, the modified parts will be listed as “True Apple Part” or “Unknown Part” if replaced by anyone other than Apple.
Original parts are generally considered to be of higher quality compared to many third-party parts, which are cheaper to produce. There is no way to be sure, but replacing the original battery (for example) can provide more comfort than anything of unknown origin.
RELATED: Think twice before repairing your iPhone by a third party (and if you do, back it up)
7. How is the performance?
Use your iPhone for a while and see how it works. Consider the age of the device and keep in mind that old devices will be slower than new ones. You are looking for obvious slowdown signs that may indicate something is wrong with the internal component.
A few simple tests you can perform include browsing a website that responds like apple.com, searching for apps using Spotlight, launching and viewing the App Store, zooming in and out on the built-in Maps app, and accessing the Notification Center and Control Center. Swipe between widgets and application icons on your home screen.
8. What is the condition of the screen?
If your iPhone has an LCD with a traditional external light (as in the iPhone XR, SE, and 11), make sure all the lights are working. If your iPhone has an OLED display (known as the Super Retina XDR, as seen in the iPhone X, 12 and 13), you should also check for burning (permanent image retention). None of this will necessarily affect how the device works and may not be visible during normal use, but you should be aware of the problem before purchasing.
You can test both of these problems on a solid background using different color shades. Similarly, use a YouTube video in full screen and pause in different shades to check for problems. It is easier to observe LCD backlight problems on a solid white slide, and the burn can only be seen in specific colors due to wear of the sub-pixels during use.
9. Do the speakers and microphones work?
You can easily test the microphone by typing something using Apple’s built-in Voice Recorder app. Test the speaker by reading the note in Settings> Sounds & Weekly and viewing the ringtone.
It is also a good idea to check the volume of the headset, and the only way to do this is to make a phone call. If this speaker is damaged, it can be really difficult to use the iPhone, as the person on the other end of the phone may be very quiet or silent. If you don’t have a SIM card in your iPhone, consider connecting to a public Wi-Fi or private hotspot and using FaceTime instead.
10. Check the Other Buttons
Check that the silent key on the left side of the iPhone is working properly. Below this you will find voluminous rockers. These buttons are useful for increasing the volume of calls and taking photos, and if you want to restart your iPhone, you should use them.
The side button on the right side of the iPhone is used to wake and sleep the iPhone, launch Siri, force it to restart, and access Apple Pay and other Wallet features. Make sure everything works as expected and the push is good. The output may have an “emotional” button.
11. Do all cameras work as advertised?
Finally, check all cameras and lenses. Open the camera app and switch to the front camera, then use all the cameras on the back of the device (including ultra-wide and telephoto cameras).
In good light, the picture should not be relatively clear and grainy. The image should be updated smoothly (not like a slide show) and touching the screen should focus on that area.
Other options to save money on iPhone
You don’t have to buy a used iPhone to save money. There are several ways to save money and still get a new or “new” device. One of the best ways to do this is to buy an updated iPhone directly from Apple.
Are you also thinking of buying a used Mac? Here is a list of special things for Mac that you should check before buying.